Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker
(Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn)
Yiddish Comics of the early 20th century

Translation and commentary by Jane Peppler
Click here to read about and order the seven Gimpel books I've published.

Comics read right to left. Click on any comic strip for larger view.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

In which Samuel Zagat brings Yiddish readers his imitation of the Katzenjammer Kids 5-30-1914, 5-31-1914

The Katzenjammer Kids was a very successful comic strip drawn by the German immigrant Rudolph Dirks in the 1910s (he started in 1897!) and no doubt Zagat and his editor felt the time was right to have a Jewish version of these two massively popular imps. You can see from this example that Motke and Notke were drawn like Hans and Fritz.

When Zagat first started the endless series of Motke-and-Notke cartoons there was the same emphasis on spanking being the consequence of every escapade as we find in the Katzenjammer Kids. Later Gimpel's heymish, Jewish response to their loaferish behavior was... less rigidly corporal...

We discover that the wife's name is Khashe Mushe and that the family is from Potshivke. I was afraid Khashe Mushe would be a harridan, but in fact she is a kindly, goodhearted woman and the marriage seems to be a good one.

In the first strip, Gimpel seems to be suffering from PTSD! In the second, blintzes are featured, probably in honor of Shavuos.

May 30, 1914: He tastes the flavor of Mexico, but it's from his own.
  1. Hey, loafers! My sons, where are you? We need to go to shul.
  2. What kind of mother are you, that you don't know where your children are?
  3. I hear their sweet little voices, long life to them, good health ...
  4. Oy, I'm being shot! The Mexicans have run after me all the way to New York!
  5. Oh, that's how it is? It was just you? I'll soon show you how to be loafers.

May 31, 1914: His wife helps him in the business, but his children get in the way.
  1. GB: Don't forget, Khashe Mushe, make fine blintzes. They'll be here soon, a match may come of it.
  2. Motke: Look here, fine blintzes just like we had in Potshivke. Just take a look to be sure nobody's coming this way.
  3. Notke: Mama can bake just like back home, let's quickly eat them all before anybody comes.
  4. Khashe Mushe: Gevald, my blintzes! My children! They have eaten far too much! Oy, I'm afraid, run quickly for a doctor!
  5. GB: In America a doctor is too expensive, it's a waste of money. I'll heal them quickly myself.



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